FCC Modernizes EAS With State Plan Reporting System

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The FCC has released a Report and Order which, among other things, creates an online-only Alert Reporting System (ARS) so that states can file their required state plans in conjunction with the country’s Emergency Alert System (EAS).  Currently, individual states file paper-based state plans.  The new ARS will combine the existing EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) with a new, streamlined electronic system for the filing of State Emergency EAS Plans.  ARS is designed to minimize the burdens on State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs) and allow the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other authorized entities to better access and use up-to-date information about the EAS.  Once consolidated and launched, the Commission believes that ARS will ensure more efficient and effective delivery of Presidential as well as state, local and weather-related alerts by providing the various agencies with the means to more easily review and identify gaps in the EAS architecture, detect problems, and take measures to address these shortcomings. While ARS has been in development for some time, its need was accentuated after the State of Hawaii this past January sent an erroneous EAS message stating that it was under missile attack.  It is hoped that a homogenous, online-based platform will catch potential problems, such as those that caused the mishap in Hawaii.  States must begin filing electronic state plans within one year after a forthcoming FCC public notice announcing the Office of Management and Budget has approved the ARS information collection requirements, or the availability of ARS, whichever  is later.  States will be required to e-file updated state plans on an annual basis thereafter.

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